Sky Force Reloaded aims way over its pay grade. Does it hit the mark or come up short? Keep reading (only one more paragraph you big baby) to find out.
I’ve spent multiple hours with Sky Force Reloaded, which, if you don’t know, is a top-down shoot ‘em up from iDreams in the spirit of classics like 1942. I could wax on about the pro’s and con’s of this arcade style classic for a while, but I’ve decided I’m not going to waste your time here. If you have even a passing interest in classic video games, grinding for upgrades, or things that make you smile, then you should probably scrape together ten bucks ($7.99 for PlayStation Plus members) and buy this game.
The Sky Force series has been around for a while and they are highly regarded by players and critics alike, and this version is no different. I understand that it’s a port of a mobile game and while that may sound like a red flag, in this case it isn’t. There are no ads, no in-app purchases and no shortage of content. It’s a top down shoot ‘em up so there is no real story to speak of, but as your little ship descends on that first level, you’ll know just what to do. Shoot the shit out of everything that moves.
As you start out your relentless scroll upwards to an inevitable epic boss, the first thing you’ll notice is that your ship is pathetic. As the enemies attack from the air and the ground, your only defense is evasion and your only offense is tiny little lasers that barely register a couple of pixels on the screen. By destroying certain glowing aircraft, you’ll earn in-level upgrades that up your firepower slightly, but I’ll get to real upgrades in a minute.
Like any good shoot ‘em up worth its salt, there will be ton’s of stuff filling up the screen. Mostly bad guys, but also loot that needs to “picked up” from your fresh kills, including the aforementioned powerups and floating stars, which act as the in-game currency. Each dead bad guy leaves a floating star that eventually floats away if you don’t grab it. There are also stranded little humans on the ground, waving their digital arms at you and begging for rescue. If you hover you ship over them for a few seconds, you’ll drop a cord and pull the little guy up for a nice bonus, and the proper feels for doing a good deed.
There are fifteen levels and they look sharp, with tons of variety, and well above average graphics for games in this genre. Most have a sci-fi bent to them that really works for me. They are also fairly short, which some could argue is a detriment, but I’ll argue is a plus. The enemy varieties are cool and the controls are nice and tight, as they have to be in a game like this. The bosses are awesome and unique. Some are epically large, but all are cool to look at, and tough to beat. Their attack patterns are crazy, but they feel fair and never impossible to beat. If you’re have too much trouble, it’s possible for a friend to jump on at the beginning of a level to lend a hand. I played for a couple of hours with my son and we had a blast. In fact, this review is a day late because we ended up playing too long and afterwards, I was too tired to formulate complete sentences.
My favorite part of the game is the between level upgrades. There are a TON of things you can buy to upgrade your ship and each one feels tangible and, most importantly, helpful during battle. As I mentioned earlier, all of those stars you’ve collected can now be used to buy improved primary cannons, wing cannons, lasers, extra shields, magnets to improve you star collecting powers and so on. Each time you try a level, even if you fail, you’ve still succeeded if you’ve collected some stars, because now you can buy a few upgrades and try again.
This game is extremely addictive because you constantly feel like you have to try just one more level to test out those new heat-seeking missiles you just bought. It reminded me of the first time I played Gran Turismo all those years ago.
You’ll need to replay missions to earn medals to advance to the next mission. The four medals you can earn from each mission are: Killing 70 percent of the enemies, killing all of the enemies, collecting all of the humans and never taking damage. Once you collect all four medals for a mission, you unlock a new difficulty level with four new medals. If it sounds like you’re going to be doing a lot of grinding through previous played levels, it’s because you will be, and believe it or not, it’s all fun. A lot of fun actually. Much more fun than I was expecting. There is something ultra-satisfying about murdering a previously completed, but difficult, mission with a ton of extra firepower.
The grinding may not be for everyone, but at a current sale price of under ten bucks, it is so completely worth it, it’s almost ridiculous. In the end, it’s a pretty simple game with a ton of replayability due to the seeming endless upgrades. Not being able to advance to the next level, (even after defeating the end-of-level boss) until you have earned the required number of medals is an interesting way to keep you playing and reminds me of the old days when you would be forced to master the beginning of games, because there were no memory cards or saves. It’s not a PS Vita cross buy, which sucks, but a resounding success nonetheless. Sky Force Reloaded is a must-buy if you like shmups or grinding for cool upgrades.
Sky Force Reloaded PS4 Review
With tons of replayability and an addictive upgrade system that just begs you to replay that level one more time, this is one shoot 'em up that should not be missed. Cross buy on the Vita would have been awesome, but a resounding success nonetheless.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.
When Jeremy isn’t writing books or playing video games, he’s living his life one random movie references at a time.